LOS ANGELES -- While Peyton and Eli Manning are preparing for this Sunday's "Manning Bowl," two Rockies players can say they knew each before they developed into elite quarterbacks in the NFL.

Rockies left fielder Seth Smith backed up Eli when he played at Ole Miss, while first baseman Todd Helton backed up Peyton when he played at Tennessee.

Helton was even ahead of Manning on the depth chart during his junior year, yet a knee injury placed Peyton in the starting role as a freshman.

The first baseman, who remains close friends with the Colts quarterback, has even invited him to games in Cincinnati and Denver, where Peyton has taken batting practice and even hit a home run.

"It has been fun and it is always good to have him for a friend and see him," Helton said. "He had a pretty good swing."

While Helton did not say if he has converted Peyton into a Rockies fan, Colorado's first baseman said that when they do talk, it usually isn't about baseball or their time at Tennessee together.

Smith said he and the Giants' starting quarterback talk occasionally; yet see each other most often when they return to Ole Miss for sporting events.

"While I was there, you could tell he was going to be a good quarterback," Smith said. "You could tell he was going to get a good shot at the NFL."

Helton and Smith have conversations about football, but never venture into their time backing up both Mannings. The Giants visit the Colts on Sunday night.

"It is going to be a good football game Sunday and I just enjoy watching football," Smith said. "They are both great quarterbacks, and I had a chance to play with one of them."

Stewart eyeing set with Giants for return to Rox

LOS ANGELES -- After participating in baseball activities on Friday, Ian Stewart could be back on the Rockies' active roster if no setbacks occur when they return home in a week, according to manager Jim Tracy.

It would be perfect timing for Colorado, which returns home from a six-game road trip to face San Francisco in a pivotal three-game series.

"If everything goes the way we would like to see it go, after Sunday's game, we will send him to Tucson to be involved in the Instructional League, so by the time we come back from the road trip, he could be active," Tracy said.

The Rockies' third baseman has been on the disabled list since Aug. 30 with a strained right oblique. Stewart is batting .264 with 18 home runs and 60 RBIs this season.

Worth noting

Chris Iannetta took dry swings and did some light running Friday, and Rockies manager Jim Tracy is expecting the catcher to be back in the lineup early next week. Iannetta has been day-to-day since he strained his right calf in Sunday's game.